All 38 Cherokee County School District schools have been working together to put on a series of basketball games pitting firefighters against school faculty to benefit the 21 fire stations as well as all schools in the county.
Beginning this month, each of CCSD’s six high schools and their feeder schools (known as Innovation Zones) will host one Firefighters vs. Faculty basketball game with proceeds split between the schools and local firehouses to purchase needed technology.
The dates for each zone are: Creekview Zone is Jan. 11, Etowah Zone is Jan. 12, Cherokee Zone is Jan. 17, River Ridge Zone is Feb. 2, Sequoyah Zone is Feb. 8 and Woodstock Zone is Feb. 10.
Adam Belanger, president of Cherokee Council of PTAs, said the one-on-one games are a great way to benefit the two groups.
“This is our chance as a county to really do something great,” Belanger said. “I ran into a few firefighters last night at the grocery store and they are practicing as well and are very excited.”
Belanger said fire departments still use a series of map books to find their way to a fire.
“Digital mapping within an encrypted GPS system will get firefighters to the emergency much faster and allow them to save precious lives and property,” Belanger said. “We want to help get them this valuable technology they need.”
Sgt. Clay Cloud with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services said he’s got about 25 firefighters who have committed to play in the games.
Cloud said none of the county’s fire engines has any GPS devices, which could be used to work with computer systems the fire department and county already has in place including digital hydrant mapping systems and other information necessary to fight fires.
“We have all of that on the computers at the fire station, but once we leave, we can’t access it,” Cloud said. “It would be very helpful… it’s just another tool for us to serve the county.”
Belanger added the school system is leading the technological wave through its Bring Your Own Learning Device initiative, which allows students to bring devices such as tablets or smartphones to use for academic purposes, including accessing digital textbooks and other online resources.
But more funding is needed to make these devices accessible to more CCSD students, Belanger said.
“Our school budgets are constantly being cut and funds for technology are growing ever smaller,” Belanger said.
Belanger said the idea for the Firefighters vs. Faculty basketball games came after playing a soccer game with a friend who works for the fire department over the summer. He said PTA leaders quickly came together and decided they wanted to do something to help.
“If we can get 1,500 people to each game we can purchase technology for every fire station in the county and three Kindle Fires for every school in the county,” Belanger said.
Belanger said it’s up to the principals in each Innovation Zone to decide how best to utilize the tablets, with the same going for each fire department.
Each of the co-ed faculty teams are made up of administration, faculty and teachers from each school in each Innovation Zone and the firefighter teams are made up of local fire department personnel.
Cloud, who works with Station 17 inside Lake Arrowhead, said he’s talked with a couple of teachers who are participating and is excited about the games.
“They’re kind of like we are, just looking forward to having fun with it and getting together for a good cause,” Cloud said. “The only outcome that matters is how many people come out.”
All Innovation Zone games will be played at their respective high schools. Doors open for each game at 6 p.m. and games begin at 6:45 p.m.
Tickets are $4 prior to the game and $5 at the door. The 1,000 pre-sale ticket holders will get swag bags containing coupons and other goodies from local businesses like Chick-fil-A and Caribou Coffee.
Both Chick-fil-A and Shane’s Rib Shack are allowing five people to take half-court shots during halftime to win free sandwiches for one year.
Additionally, each game will hold a raffle for various gift baskets and other prizes, including four Atlanta Hawks tickets and an iPad mini.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit cccpta.org or email Cherokee County Council of PTAs President Adam Belanger at firstname.lastname@example.org.